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Sperling, O. (1950). Psychoanalytic Aspects of Bureaucracy. Psychoanal Q., 19:88-100.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:88-100

Psychoanalytic Aspects of Bureaucracy

Otto Sperling, M.D.


Complaints about bureaucracy are an indication of failure in leadership on the part of the staff given positions of authority, however minor. This failure may be caused by poor choice of personnel. Some of the individual traits which make the bureaucrat unendurable are compulsive character (or neurosis), lack of empathy (schizoid fanaticism), conscious sadistic tendencies (psychopathy), and identification with the aggressor (bureaucrat). Some of the hostility toward bureaucracy stems from a prejudice of the people, based on the 'stepfather' role of the bureaucrat. Complaints about bureaucracy are an outlet for hatred against the leader and for discontent with the restrictions of civilization.

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